One of the best games ever made with an Oriental motif, Legend of Lotus Spring (LOLS) is the first release from Women Wise, a new developer whose focus is to create games for the female audience. Don't let the target group discourage you, though: LOLS is a wonderful game that can be enjoyed by the whole family. |
The game is based on one of China's most famous literature that tells the story of Emperor Xian Feng and his beloved concubine, Lotus Spring. Xian Feng was an emperor of the Qing Dynasty, a Manchu Chinese. He Han Qu was a Han Chinese woman whom the emperor came to love; Xian Feng gave He Han Qu the name "Lotus Spring," and they lived together in Yan Ming Yan, the Garden of Perfect Brightness. However, the Dowager Empress CiXi, one of the emperor's wives, became jealous, and used the laws regarding the separation of Manchu and Han Chinese to have Lotus Spring held prisoner on an island in the middle of the Garden. The bridge from the island was destroyed; Lotus Spring was left alone. And now Xian Feng has heard that Lotus Spring is gone from the Garden. You play the part of heart-broken Xian Feng, who has returned to the Garden, in part to find out what happened to Lotus Spring, and in part to relive your time together.
If you are from a Western culture, this story is probably unfamiliar to you. LOLS is basically the Chinese version of Romeo and Juliet, a tale of two people from two different families who cannot be together because of laws and customs. This unfamiliarity may make the game difficult to understand, but also makes it very interesting. There's a lot of background information in the game. Some of it is in the CD booklet, while other parts are in the in-game diary that you fill out as you play. But still, much of the time you won't know the cultural references, and so you won't get all the nuances of what's taking place. If you just "go with the flow," though, you'll find LOLS to be a pleasant journey, at once sad and full of hope. Because most puzzles in the game are quite simple, the game is more of an "interactive story" than a traditional point-and-click adventure. Still, there are many optional puzzles that you could miss, and you will find out about them later if your in-game diary is not full at the end of the game.
I think most people will understand the storyline better and appreciate the game more if they play it the second time through-- there are many nuances and unassuming details, typical of Oriental mythos, that are likely missed the first time around. I did play the game twice just to find all the puzzles and find all diary pieces, and the experience didn't diminish at all from the first time. If you are looking for an original adventure game, set in an exotic locale and culture, and are willing to forego the conventional "standards" of adventure games, Legend of Lotus Spring is a must-have. Highly recommended.
Reviewed by: Underdogs